About Maury’s Logbook Data

The data here were extracted from whaling logbooks by Lt. Cdr. Matthew Fontaine Maury of the U. S. Navy. The data include information on the location of whaling vessels and whales seen or caught from late 18th to mid-19th centuries.

We extracted the whale observations from original logbooks and added them to data files of vessel location and weather data prepared by NOAA. These data represent most logbooks used by Maury, but some records could not be associated with specific voyages.

Part of Maury’s 1853 whale chart summarizing catches and sightings of sperm and right whales along both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean coastlines of South America south of 30°S, between 55°W and 90°W. Shown are 6 latitudinal and 7 longitudinal blocks of 5° of latitude by 5° of longitude. An inset of a diagrammatic single block illustrates the form of the data, which included the monthly number of days on which right and sperm whales were reported and the number of vessel-days at sea. Months are depicted from left to right horizontally, from December through November. For each month, the height of the lighter black line denotes number of vessel-days, and the height of the blue and red lines denotes the number of right whales and sperm whales encountered, respectively, according to a non-linear scale. Also shown is a photograph of LCDR Matthew Fontaine Maury.